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DWR to Utahns: Don't feed the deer

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13 2012 5:05 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are asking Utahns to not feed deer they see struggling in the wild.

Often, deer can be seen struggling through deep snow trying to find something to eat. But feeding the deer may do more harm than good, DWR officials said.

Deer have complex and delicate digestive systems, biologists said. The deer can actually die, even though its stomach is full of food.

Deer congregate in places where they are fed, according to the DWR. This could lead to deer passing diseases to each other, undernourished fawns, increased chance of being hit by cars, and damaging plants by eating vegetation in the same area.

Also, after winter is over, deer often will stay close to the area where they are fed instead of moving to their normal summer ranges.

Biologists are monitoring deer closely during winter, looking at indicators including their condition, amount of food available to them, how deep the snow is, how cold it is in their habitat, and the amount of body fat found on deer that have been killed along roads, according tot he DWR.

If three or more of the five factors reach a critical point, biologists will consider feeding deer specially designed pellets. The pellets are formulated to fit the complex digestive system mule deer have and to give them extra energy.

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